Weekly Words about New Books in
Independent Bookstores

May 22, 2022
New Fiction: Fast-Paced Missing Person Thriller, and Contemporary Tale of a Woman Whose Old Age Attraction Is Hardly Age Old
Two Nights in Lisbon by Chris Pavone. I recently read a woman-in-peril thriller in which the protagonist couldn't make up her mind about who to trust. There was a decent plot twist at the end, but I had gotten so tired of the author trying to create tension through the heroine's contrived doubts and fears that I had stopped caring. Lucky me, the next book I picked up was Two Nights in Lisbon, whose author Chris Pavone (The Travelers, The Expats, The Paris Diversion) knows how to build tension - slowly, surely, and believably.

Most of the book does indeed take place over the course of 48 hours, with Pavone unravelling the story of a woman whose husband has disappeared one morning through chapters that are sometimes only minutes or hours apart. Things begin immediately, as Ariel Pryce wakes up in Lisbon, alone. Her husband is gone—no warning, no note, not answering his phone. Something is wrong. She turns first to hotel security, then the police, then the American embassy, at each stop finding herself dealing with questions she can’t fully answer: What exactly is John doing in Lisbon? Why would he drag her along on his business trip? Who would want to harm him? And why does Ariel know so little about her new—much younger—husband? As Ariel becomes increasingly frantic, the curiosity of the agencies she has involved increases as well, and Pavone shifts skillfully between all the players as the hunt becomes more involved. That's all I'll say for now, except to note that I thought the author's slow reveal of pertinent facts was nicely paced and the ending of the book quite satisfactory.

But that's just me. Let's see what a professional writer has to say - how about mystery author John Grisham: “I defy anyone to read the first twenty pages of this breakneck novel, then try to put it down for five minutes. It can’t be done. The plot is too devious, the pace is too gripping, and the characters are seldom who they are supposed to be. This is smart suspense at its very best.”
You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi. After the critical success of literary novels Freshwater and The Death of Vivek Oji, Nigerian author Emezi (they/them) now offers up a contemporary romance about a grieving young woman who gets a second chance at love. Unfortunately, it's complicated.

Feyi Adekola lost the love of her life in an accident five years ago. Now she’s almost a new person—an artist with her own studio and sharing a brownstone apartment with her best friend, Joy, who convinces Feyi to re-enter the dating scene. Feyi isn’t ready for anything serious, but a steamy encounter at a rooftop party cascades into a whirlwind summer she could have never imagined: a luxury trip to a tropical island, decadent meals in the glamorous home of a celebrity chef, and a major curator who wants to launch her art career. She’s even started dating the perfect guy, but their new relationship might be sabotaged before it has a chance by the overwhelming desire Feyi feels every time she locks eyes with the one person in the house who is most definitely off-limits—his father. 

In its starred review, Booklist enthused, "Emezi has created a dazzling celebration of the messiness of living and feeling with their signature gift for articulating characters' inner voices in raw and expressive detail. Couple that with a thrilling story of forbidden love, and Emezi has created a seductive and powerful novel that will make readers feel renewed."